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Michael Seibel comes to Reddit from startup accelerator Y Combinator

By Rachel DeSantis
June 10, 2020 01:06 PM
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Alexis Ohanian Michael Seibel Reddit
Alexis Ohanian and Michael Seibel
| Credit: Zach Pagano/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty; Kimberly White/Getty

Reddit has heeded the advice of Alexis Ohanian in replacing him on its Board of Directors, as the company announced Wednesday that a black tech mogul will take his seat.

Michael Seibel has joined Reddit’s board less than a week after Ohanian, 37, announced his resignation and encouraged his colleagues to hire a black candidate in his place.

Seibel is a partner at the startup accelerator Y Combinator, and also serves as CEO of the YC startup accelerator program, which helped launch Reddit back in 2005.

“I want to thank Steve [Huffman], Alexis, and the entire Reddit board for this opportunity. I’ve known Steve and Alexis since 2007 and have been a Reddit user ever since,” Seibel said in a statement. “Over this period of time I’ve watched Reddit become part of the core fabric of the internet and I’m excited to help provide advice and guidance as Reddit continues to grow and tackle the challenges of bringing community and belonging to a broader audience.”

The Brooklyn native, 37, graduated from Yale University with a degree in political science, and after college worked as finance director for the Senate campaign of former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume in Maryland.

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Seibel co-founded the video streaming platform Justin.tv in 2006 and served as CEO for four years. Justin.tv later became the popular live streaming platform Twitch, which was acquired by Amazon for $970 million in 2014, according to CNN Business.

Seibel — who also co-founded the video app Socialcam — headed to Y Combinator in 2013, and became CEO three years later.

“Minority founders often feel like they are on the outside looking in when it comes to Silicon Valley and tech startups in general,” he told CNN Business in 2014, shortly after becoming Y Combinator’s first full-time black partner.

Reddit CEO and co-founder Huffman praised Seibel in a statement, and called him “one of the smartest and kindest people in tech.”

His appointment to the board comes after Ohanian’s resignation amid protests throughout the United States calling for change regarding police brutality and systemic racism.

The Reddit co-founder and executive chairman, who is married to tennis star Serena Williams, said his decision was his way of helping make the world a better place for their daughter, Alexis Olympia, 2½.

“I’m writing this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?’” he wrote. “I have resigned as a member of the reddit board, I have urged them to fill my seat with a black candidate, and I will use future gains on my Reddit stock to serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate, and I’m starting with a pledge of $1M to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp.”

Ohanian discussed his decision with Williams, 38, and said that he felt his resignation was the best way for him to lead by example in pushing for change.

“We need diversity at the highest levels of business now more than ever,” he said. “Once I realized why I needed to do it, it became very easy.”

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.